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SAG-AFTRA political candidate backs plan to sue own union over COVID-19 work deal


Pete Antico, secretary-treasurer candidate of SAG-AFTRA, has sent a message to union members in an effort to drum up plaintiffs in a potential lawsuit against the union.

Antico, which joins an independent list of candidates challenging Fran Drescher’s Unity ticket, sent union members an election campaign message Thursday informing them of potential pending lawsuits against SAG-AFTRA. “Sag-Aftra union members across the country who are being discriminated against and disadvantaged by Sag-Aftra’s return to work contract are now taking matters into their own hands and are filing a lawsuit against the union to stop the madness,” Antico wrote in the message. The email urged members to read a letter from the Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids (PERK), a 501(c)3 nonprofit that supports General Hospital star Ingo Rademacher’s COVID-19 vaccine lawsuit against ABC. (An LA Supreme Court judge ruled on behalf of ABC in the lawsuit in June.) PERK “fights on behalf of union members who want to preserve medical liberty, bodily autonomy and agency, an inalienable human right,” Antico wrote.

The PERK letter alleged that the industry’s Return to Work Agreement, a pact agreed upon by the Hollywood unions and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, outlining health and safety requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic, “subjected our members to invasive testing, masking, being banned from work and in some cases actually being blacklisted.” The letter further claims that this year SAG-AFTRA performers “again face forced masking, additional experimental booster shots, and other scientifically unsupported protocols.” After roughly three years of regulating health and safety on sets during the pandemic, the Return to Work Agreement officially expired on May 12. Yet the PERK letter states: “Many SAG-AFTRA members are still subject to COVID protocols and mandates to audition, be cast or continue working on a production that is already under contract.

The letter asks for donations to support this campaign and urges members who believe they have been “discriminated against because of your honest beliefs or personal health reasons” to contact the organization and complete a survey.

It is unclear if any other members are currently involved in the effort. PERK’s website lists multiple other legal efforts, including multiple vaccine-related cases, as well as one against a suburban LA school district over its sexual education curriculum.

The Hollywood reporter has contacted SAG-AFTRA for comment.

Antico, a former SAG-AFTRA presidential candidate, is running this year alongside SAG-AFTRA presidential hopeful Maya Gilbert-Dunbar. Gilbert-Dunbar, whose husband Rockmond Dunbar sued Disney and 20th Television in 2022 after firing him 911 about his refusal to get a COVID-19 vaccine, mentioned in a job interview in August that her husband’s experience helped her political campaign. She is also concerned about the appropriation of union dues and has promised to do so end the current SAG-AFTRA strike with the help of mediators and possibly state and California politicians. The Gilbert-Dunbar and Antico list also includes National Council candidates such as Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow: male gigolo), Elliott Gould (Ocean’s Eleven), dr. Drew (Celebrity Rehab) and Diane Ladd (chinatown).

Meanwhile, Fran Drescher’s Unity ticket has aligned two political factions within the union that are usually fiercely at odds: the Unite for Strength and Membership First groups. Unity’s roster includes Drescher as union president and incumbent Joely Fisher as secretary-treasurer, while candidates for the union’s national and LA Local boards include Sean Astin.The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring), Sheryl Lee Ralph (Abbott Elementary) and Frances Fisher (Titanic).

The election results will be announced on Friday.

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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